Going to the movie theater can be enough of a hassle, but it’s possible that projectionists are ruining the experience more than you think.
Not only has going to the movie theater gotten more expensive and proven to at times be a genuine pain, but oftentimes, even the filmmakers’ integrity is at risk, with poor projection one of the culprits.
In a recent Vulture article titled “Bad Projection Is Ruining the Movie Theater Experience”, the writer makes the case that sloppy work on the part of the projectionists is putting off cinephiles across the country. One cited example is 2D versions of movies being projected as 3D. The result, a projection expert points out, greatly dims the light, resulting in dull, drab images. “It’s a polarized lens that cuts a picture’s brightness by a third…They just have to push it to the side when they switch to 2-D, but theaters forget to do it all the time. You can tell when it’s happening because if you look at the port-window glass, instead of a single image, you’ll see two, with one stacked on top of the other.” Something to be on the lookout for the next time you see such a movie at the theater…
There, too, is what’s called the “keystone effect”, which anybody who has been in a lecture hall has probably experienced. It’s when the projected image doesn’t form correctly on the surface, typically showing up more as a trapezoid than a rectangle or square. At movie theaters, projectionists also have the duty of properly framing the film, but in some instances, they don’t know what they’re doing or even that that’s part of the job description. Many people who saw M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village upon release–this writer included–noticed boom mics throughout the movie, a result of poor framing. As if the movie itself wasn’t bad enough!
But at some point the movie has to leave the hands of the director and head to theaters. Consider that Quentin Tarantino ensured nearly 100 screens were fitted to handle the 70 mm projection of The Hateful Eight. It’s not as if he can sit at everything screening to ensure it goes off without a hitch. If a movie receives a poor projection, the experience is botched and often the film takes the blame. Picture the projectionist at your local cinema. Do you truly trust them to help offer the best night out for the audience? Of course, any number of things can go wrong at the theater (Magazine Dreams’ Sundance premiere prompted walk-outs after the subtitles didn’t work), but the more that can be done to protect the experience and the integrity of the film, the better.
Have you had any bad movie theater experiences related to projection, screens, etc.? Tell us some of your stories in the comments section below!
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